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Republican Senator Praises Solar, Warns of Human-Caused Climate Change

By |June 5th, 2013|

Does Senator Lamar Alexander’s energy speech mark a shift in GOP tone?

In a speech at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) lauded distributed solar power, called for more R&D funding of clean technologies, and warned that humans are causing climate change.

The speech was a notable departure from recent GOP rhetoric on clean energy, which has been largely focused on playing up a handful of high-profile bankruptcies and questioning the validity of climate science.

Senator Alexander plays an influential role in Washington when it comes to energy policy. As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, he helps guide how the Department of Energy is funded. The Senator is a major proponent of R&D spending on both cleantech and fossil fuels. He is also very outspoken about energy tax subsidies and commonly uses the term “big wind” in his efforts to repeal the production tax […]

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Solar Power More Competitive than People Realize

By |May 24th, 2012|

Are the decision-makers entrusted with determining the future of energy infrastructure operating under an outdated understanding of the cost-competitiveness of solar power? In many cases, the answer is yes, according to a paper released last week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

In “Reconsidering the Economics of Photovoltaic Power,” BNEF CEO Michael Liebreich and nine collaborators document the precipitous decline in the price of solar power since 2009. “Average PV module prices have fallen by nearly 75% in the past three years,” they write, “to the point where solar power is now competitive with daytime retail power prices in a number of countries.”

Those facts so quickly upended what had been conventional wisdom (i.e., solar power is prohibitively expensive) that the new economics of solar power apparently caught decision-makers flat-footed. Here are the authors’ conclusions:
• The shift in prices of solar technology carries major implications for policy and investment decision-makers, especially when […]

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US to put tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels

By |May 17th, 2012|

U.S. trade officials ordered tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels of as much as 250%, according to SolarWorld AG’s U.S. unit.

The decision is likely to help U.S. solar-equipment manufacturers, although it could stir trade tensions with China.

The Department of Commerce has ordered tariffs of 249.96% for some amount of imports of Chinese solar cells and panels, while products made by Suntech Power Holdings Co. will have tariffs of 31.22%, products made by Trina Solar Ltd. will have tariffs of 31.14%, while other unnamed companies will see tariffs of 31.18%, SolarWorld said.

The department was scheduled to release a decision on the tariffs Thursday as part of an investigation into accusations that Chinese solar-panel makers receive unfair government subsidies and sell their products in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production.

In a related decision in March, the department imposed tariffs of between 3% and 5% on imports of Chinese solar […]

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Solar Week in review

By |April 16th, 2012|

As with many recent weeks, news from the solar industry and market shows that solar is blooming despite facing pricing uncertainty and other challenges. While some places are enacting new programs to incentivize solar, some companies and projects are being threatened by a variety of factors, from a slow-moving turtle to falling module prices.

One of the places where falling prices most affected the solar market is Pennsylvania where the state’s solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market slumped because people adopted solar more quickly than expected. The SREC market was limited by how much solar power utilities were required to buy and when there was enough solar, the price of SRECs dropped. Now, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 and others are supporting HB 1580, which would increase the amount of SRECs that utilities must buy, thereby, increasing the price of the credits, making solar more valuable.

Meanwhile Los […]

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Feed-in-Tariffs: Europe’s Way of Encouraging Solar Power Arrives in the U.S.

By |April 10th, 2012|

With the news that the LA City Council has granted LADWP the power to enter into feed-in-tariff agreements, here is some news on how FIT’s are working in Europe and other parts of the U.S.

Solar cells adorn the roofs of many homes and warehouses across Germany, while the bright white blades of wind turbines are a frequent sight against the sky in Spain.
If one day these machines become as common on the plains and rooftops of the United States as they are abroad, it may be because the financing technique that gave Europe an early lead in renewable energy is starting to cross the Atlantic.

Put simply, the idea is to pay homeowners and businesses top dollar for producing green energy. In Germany, for example, a homeowner with a rooftop solar system may be paid four times more to produce electricity than the rate paid to a coal-fired power plant.

This month […]

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Solar but Were Afraid to Ask

By |April 9th, 2012|

Q: How much does a residential PV system cost?
A: In general, the bigger and more complex the system, the more it will cost. PV systems with batteries cost about 30% more than systems without batteries. Grid power is reliable so most people get an on-grid PV system without batteries. For example, a home in Southern California Edison territory consumes $250 per month utility electricity.  A 3.23 kilowatt PV system with a 300 square feet PV array will save on average $150 per month. This PV system will cost $11,560 and save over $128,000 in electricity during its 25-year power warranty. A larger PV system will cost more but will produce more energy and save you more money. Call SES and get a free quotation for a PV system designed to meet your needs.

Q: How much money will a solar electrical system save me?
A: A properly designed and well installed PV […]

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What to do before you Go Solar

By |March 27th, 2012|

One of the smartest things you can do today is go solar, and the smartest way to go solar is to reduce your energy usage as much as possible at the same time.  If you do, solar may allow you to eliminate your electric bill completely, instead of just reducing it.  Here are some smart ways to save energy and money:

• Replace your air conditioner with an energy efficient Energy Star air conditioner.
• Replace your noisy, out-of-date refrigerator with a sleek Energy Star model.
• If you don’t need your spare refrigerator, just get rid of it. If you do need it, make sure that refrigerator is an Energy Star model.
• Tankless water heaters are more efficient and cost less to run than traditional water heaters.
• Set your water heater temperature setting no higher than 120 degrees.
• If you have a pool or spa, replace the pump with a variable speed model.
• There’s tremendous savings in running the […]

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Leasing the Sun

By |February 13th, 2012|

“The most expensive way to get solar is to do nothing now and wait until all of the incentives are gone.  So, if you can’t buy with cash, take out a loan.  If you
can’t get a loan, do a good lease or PPA.” 
Leasing the Sun
With low or no up-front costs, solar leases are increasing in popularity among homeowners who can’t afford to purchase a PV system outright or don’t want the
burden of ownership and maintenance. But the concept is still relatively young and not all of the kinks have been worked out.
Being able to recognize a good deal, or a bad deal, is an important part of successful solar leasing. It’s all about the “fine print.”
Between the Lines

So what should you look for—or look out for—in a contract? It would be due diligence to talk to your attorney and accountant before signing a lease. Alternatively, you could solicit contracts from […]

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